: your questions answered - about
brian eno :
Q. What is Brian Eno's full/real name?
Eno was christened Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (per "Brian Eno: His Music and the Vertical Color of Sound", Eric Tamm, p. 15).
Q. And when was he born?
15th May 1948.
Q. I see. And did he have any distinguishing features?
He was described as "bald and grumpy". No change there then. No, no, of course not. We have no idea.
Q. Where is Eno's studio located?
According to the BBC World Service program, Musicworks (12 January 1994), he used to have one at his house, located off to the side of his kitchen. Since then he's moved to a different house and he has a swish new studio Somewhere In London. However, he'll record anywhere. In an article by Tim de Lisle in The Independent On Sunday, 10 May 1998, Anton Corbijn said: "Brian was recording in Amsterdam earlier this year. We had a meal one night and I promised to visit him in the studio next day and take a photo. I couldn't believe where I found him. It was like the film Delicatessen -- some derelict basement, in an abandoned part of the harbour, in a soon- to- be- demolished house. The most basic "studio" I had ever been in. And he was all by himself! He was as happy as Larry -- had a few instruments lying around and was singing over the sounds he had just created, then proudly played me the results."
Q. Where is Eno's home located?
London. Some of the time. In 1997 he went to live in St Petersburg for 6 months, and after that he decided that he would probably not settle in any one place for long -- he likes the stimulation of unfamiliar surroundings. For a while (late 80s/early 90s) he lived in Woodbridge, but he found not living in a city a bit dull. No, we don't know his address, and if we did we probably wouldn't tell you anyway. Rumor has it that he still keeps an apartment in San Francisco, and he probably has a few other occasional residences too. Good old rumour.
Q. Who is Roger Eno?
Brian's younger brother (11 years younger). They started recording together in the 1980s, collaborating on Apollo, Music For Films II, and other projects, including working together with Michael Brook on his releases Hybrid and Cobalt Blue. Roger has been a busker and a music therapist before actually releasing any music. He's brought our loads of albums. You must have seen them. Between Tides, Lost In Translation and The Nightgarden are good starting-points.
Q. Does Eno ever exist in a powder or liquid form?
If you live in Canada and the UK, yes! Eno is found on the shelves of pharmacies (chemist shop to you in the UK!) as an aid to digestion. Eno fruit salts is added to water, and drunk while actively fizzing. No doubt, it changes the ambient mood of the digestive tract!
A GIF file of an old ad for Eno is included in the Eno archives as take_eno.gif.
Q. What was Brian Eno's first band?
More Dark Than Shark tells us that it was called Maxwell Demon. He formed it with Anthony Grafton (guitarist). They recorded only once - a song called "Ellis B. Compton Blues", on 4-track, on Christmas Day 1968. Can anyone tell us more about this band and pre-Roxy Music history?
Earlier still, Opal Information (1993, issue 23) printed a picture of Brian and friends from 1964, when they formed a group called The Black Aces. He is holding a pair of drumsticks (wood, not chicken).
Q. What's with this "The Domed One" reference? Isn't it insulting?
It's been commonly used by the music press for years. It would seem that Eno doesn't mind or is used to it by now. Other nick-names include Professor Eno, The Professor, Brain One, Beano, Old Bean, and Bald-As-Coot-Him-Music-Maker-Fly-Fly-Make-Music-Like-Perfume (though you don't hear that one very often).
Q. Is Eno God?
Apparently in New York City in the late 70's and perhaps in some other parts of the universe it was not uncommon to see "ENO IS GOD" spray-painted on city walls or written on the bathroom walls. We have eye-witness evidence that 'twas so, look here:
I just discovered your site through Nerve Net. I have been an Eno fan since college in the mid 70s and while everyone around me was listening to the Dead, I discovered Eno (through Rolling Stone record reviews, I think). Anyway, sitting around my dorm one evening, and no I wasn't stoned, I came up with the phrase "Eno is God". It may have been a response to Deadheads telling me Jerry was God, I really can't recall. Then, clever bastard that I was, I came up with Eno spelled backward is One and God is One therefore Eno is God.
To cut to the chase, I went to college on Long Island and occasionally went into the City, mainly to scour record stores for imports, unusual items, etc. While wandering in the Village, I walked through Washington Square and on one of the arches was spray-painted "Eno is God". I felt like part of a vast worldwide conspiracy. Others had discovered what I thought was a unique thought. So the answer to your question about the Eno is God legend is that it is true and I witnessed it myself. -- donald stefanski
We can't attest to the accuracy of statements about Brian's apotheosis. He certainly has achieved a "god-like" status in the music industry, but that's something completely different. Or is it? We have heard reports that in Renaissance Venice, it was not uncommon to see "ENO IS DOGE" written in clothes-dye on the city walls. We can't attest to the accuracy of these stories either, although if it's true, then Eno must be a lot older than we'd thought. He's definitely visited Venice, so what more proof do you need?
Q. Is Eno gay/bi/straight?
This one used to come up on the newsgroup with tedious regularity. Some people assume that because he preferred a feminine look with makeup and clothing in the early Seventies, it automatically followed that he was gay or bisexual (long hair doesn't count as it was de rigeur part of the Glam Rock uniform, shifting sideways into the Heavy Metal arena where it still thrives). But you've got to see his outrageous appearance in the context of the times he was living in. Sure, the sexual revolution might have begun in the Sixties, but by the early Seventies it still hadn't really altered much in the way of gender roles. Men were still expected to be the breadwinners, strong manly types. Eno's response to this expectation was to rebel against it and emphasise the "feminine" side of his nature, which he viewed as the more creative aspect.
These days Eno also tends to emphasise parts of the feminine, although in this case he's using Photoshop on his Mac to enlarge pictures of buttocks and breasts. We swear we're not making this up!
Returning to the question, he describes himself as a heterosexual on the back of his Diary but the real response is "Who cares?" We like David Bowie's quip on the Seventies Eno: "He was a very glamorous young man... I was very jealous!"
Q. Is Eno married?
Yes. Twice. Not at the same time though. Reader, his manager Anthea Norman-Taylor married him. He has 3 daughters, not all via this union. It used to appear that he preferred his private life be kept private, and he was especially reticent when he appeared on Desert Island Discs in the early 90's, answering questions on the topic of family life with a flat "Yes". In 1996 all that changed when he published his Diary of 1995, which will tell you all you need to know.
Q. But doesn't he have a reputation for being a bit wild where the beast-with-two-backs thang is concerned?
Eno was well-known in younger and happier days for his [ahem] flamboyant lifestyle, perhaps best summed up in Everything you'd rather not have known about Brian Eno. Rumors of his sexual prowess in the 01970's were common in Creem and other magazines, a conclusion you may already have drawn from your visits to our archive of interviews & articles from that era. As Suede might say, he was one of the Wild Ones. Bored by drugs ' n ' rock ' n ' roll, there was obviously only one part of the rock-star equation to keep him going!
Some people also wonder loudly, What are Eno's favorite porno magazines? -- presumably in the hope that by perusing these magazines some of Eno's musical genius may rub off onto them. Ooh, no, missus! Titter ye not! Anyway, in an interview in a newspaper in late 1993 The Domed One said that two of his favourite porno magazines were Big Ones and Over 40, and that he bought them occasionally. Eno is also known to be an avid collector of pornographic playing cards and he had a habit of including one on the album cover art of his early releases. (See the cover of Here Come the Warm Jets for a better understanding of the title). He also likes female mud-wrestling videos and in his Diary complains about his imported vids being intercepted by Customs. But he says that it is only a myth that he has a large collection of pornography, and a few years back on a television documentary he said that as he got older sex became more psychological and that "appetite has consequences".
To be honest, the EnoWeb recommends that if you want to find out more about Eno and debauchery, you should visit Sister Alizarine's Backwater site. We wouldn't sully our hands with such material, dear me no, but if you look in our interviews archive there are some hilarious examples of excess, particularly here and here.
Q. What's this about Eno and Anagrams?
Brain One has a fondness for wordplay and anagrams. The titles "King's Lead Hat" and Before and After Science are anagrams - where the words have been created by rearranging the letters from other words. "King's Lead Hat" is an anagram of "Talking Heads".
Ben Arion appears on vocals on one track on the Christiane F soundtrack, which also credits Brian Eno for a few other thing on the same release. Ben Arion also is credited on some Michael Brook releases and on a release by a french band, Tanit. Ben O'Rian also appears on record labels from time to time. Whilst not an anagram, CSJ Bofop is another Eno identity, writing the film descriptions for the Passengers album and also writing notes for Generative Music 1. He is created using a substitution cypher (B=C, R=S, I=J etc).
Robert Fripp and King Crimson also seem to share a fondness for anagrams. "Thela Hun Gingeet" is "Heat In The Jungle". And a Matching Mole track produced by Fripp with an appearance by Eno originally appears as "Nan True's Hole" and later re-appears as a Hatfield and the North track named "O Len's Nature."
We wondered about the anagram of Before and After Science for a long time. Then, in 1995, the answer appeared on Usenet.
Joseph Zitt wrote:
"Anyone who knows me knows this story. I am constantly telling it."
Some years ago (1980?) EG Records had a competition for people to guess what the phrase "Before and After Science" was originally an anagram for. The prize was a set of Oblique Strategies.
I figured out what I was sure it *had* to be: "Bad Case of Interference". Turns out it was something else -- and I can't recall what, other that that the last two words *may* have been "of creed". I was told once, but forgot...
So I didn't win the Strategies, but I did get in the mail a copy of "The Plateaux of Mirrors" inscribed "To Joe Zitt for an inspired wrong answer -- Brian Eno". As I recall, I leapt into the air in the middle of the campus post office and tore my jeans on something... So does anyone know what the real answer was?
Shortly afterwards, Alias answered:
I know the answer but not because I did the work. When the album came out in 1977 or so I bought an English pressing that included the 4 color lithographs. About 3 years later while reading the label of an Elvis Costello album (This Year's Model - also English) I noticed on the record itself, next to the label someone had written (scratched) "Ring Moira at (some phone number) for your special prize." The contest was long over when I saw the note but the record company sent me some ugly Elvis posters. Anyway, I went through all of my other records and found that some others also had something written in the same place. On Before And After Science I found the phrase: "Arcane Benefits of Creed". I like yours better.
So there you go. Of course, there are some other anagrams of Before And After Science that make worthy contenders...
sincere deaf benefactor
barren oceanside effect
barefaced frenetic enos
frenetic seaboard fence
beside concrete fanfare
cabinet coffer serenade
Feared nice benefactors
Fine fear-based concrete
Confident carefree base
Fine centre-board faeces
Face-to-face breeds inner
Face-to-face inbred sneer
Benefactors define care
An infected care-free sob
Affection braced serene
Ascertain coffee bender
Confident faeces bearer
Increase bad coffee rent
As nice coffee bartender
In affected obscene rear
Side effect: barren ocean
Effect in censor-bed area
A different obscene care
Once crab-feed: a fit sneer
As you enjoyed those so much, here are four more in Eno's handwriting from More Dark Than Shark:
Fade, o brief Cretan Scene
Of Fate bred near Science
Eno defecate: finer crab
A bin of accented reefers
A shareware Macintosh program called "Karma Manager" has been uploaded to the eno-l archives as karma.hqx for your anagramatical pleasure. Windows, Mac & Acorn users should look out for the commercial "Anagram Genius" software in shops. You can also visit the Anagram Genius site to generate your own.
If you want other odd takes on reality, take a look at the Miscans created by our optical character recognition software.
Q. What's this about Eno and Smells, Essences and Perfumes?
"I wondered where the name "Neroli" came from. Then a few days later I was shopping in Covent Garden and went into this Aromatherapy shop. They sell this oil (£85 per bottle!) called "Neroli". It supposed to be an anti-depressant and has a calming effect on people." (Aj.)
A number of the All Saints' Promo copies of Neroli which were originally sent out actually had a small vial of Neroli attached to them.
Eno used to (or still does) dabble with mixing fragrances, presumably in much the same way he describes making music as a metaphor for painting - mixing colors and layers of colors...
For further information on Eno's perfumes, look here and here.
Q. Eno does Light Sculptures and Video Installations?
Yes. he has done a variety of video installation projects, ranging from ambient images to be displayed on sideways televisions (the New York skyscapes in Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan and the Japanes nude in Thursday Afternoon) to things perhaps describable as environmental installations of sound and light, typically using video monitors around which he builds constructions of materials which diffuse and reflect the colored light emanating from the tv monitors. So instead of watching the tv you see the reflected light of the tv through various shapes and forms, with subtle ambient changes in the colors and patterns and music.
For a time during the 80's, Eno was enthusiastic about setting up "Quiet Clubs", which would feature permanent installations of colours, light and ambient music. These would be places where people could go and think constructively, away from the cramped nature of the town and city. Unfortunately he had difficulty raising finance for the idea, and it never happened. The "Chill-Out" areas that the Young People have at their rave pop-music discotheques perhaps serve a similar purpose.
"The exhibit I saw was hard to describe, but some of the constructions looked like constructivist paintings that mutated over time and others looked like odd buildings shrouded in neon fog." - Malcolm
"Eno's Contemporary Data Lounge installation was in the cramped basement of a London clothes shop where upstairs a single assistant tended a single rail of unutterably single-minded jackets. At first the room appeared to be almost completely dark, but gradually my eyes got used to it, and I began to make out odd shapes at the front. Slow colour-cycling revealed the forms of a table and chair. Rather discordant music and data-spike type sounds emanated from speakers hidden around the room. This was in the days before colour-cycling screen-savers were two a penny, and I marvelled at such arcane magyck, although the friend I'd dragged along to the installation was less than impressed and wanted to leave after about two minutes." - Tom
Q. What's this about a Theme Park with Peter Gabriel and Laurie Anderson?
They reckoned it would be a great idea, a theme park with artistic, creative areas and rides. Again, lack of vision from the people who have the money meant that it didn't get off the ground. Strangely, they just couldn't see the idea making a profit. In 1996, Peter Gabriel News said: "Sadly the site in Barcelona could not be obtained so the project has been 'put on ice'. In the meantime, Peter is trying out some of the ideas in smaller, more easily achievable projects through our multimedia company 'Real World Multimedia'." His CD-ROM Eve is certainly well worth your attention.
Interviewed by Phil Johnson in The Independent, Saturday 31 May 1997, Laurie Anderson said: "I see Peter once in a while in New York, but I don't know if it will ever happen, or if Peter would really like to build it. The closer it gets to being real the more he likes to re-think the basic issues. I think it's a wonderful dream but actually to build it would be an anti-climax."
Both Peter and Brian are doing things for the Millennium: Peter is doing something for the Millennium Dome in London, and Brian is Director of one of the Pavilions at the Hanover Expo 2000. Perhaps some Theme Park-y ideas will come through here...
To follow up the idea, see our archive file on Real World Experience Park.
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